It is yet another sign of how significant the mobile industry has become in the overall IT landscape.
Fueled by the strong demand for smartphones, semiconductor purchases for wireless devices will add up to $55.4 billion this year and climb by 10.7% from $50.1 billion in 2010. Semiconductor purchases for computers will be up by only 1.2% to $53.1 billion, IHS estimates.
“Led by Apple’s iPhone and iPad, demand is booming for smart phones and tablet devices,” said Wenlie Ye, analyst for semiconductor design and spending at IHS. “This is spurring a surge in sales of semiconductors used in wireless devices, including baseband chips, applications processors and mobile memory. With overall sales growth for PCs slowing, the balance of power in the semiconductor industry is shifting toward the wireless segment.”
IHS noted that Apple recently surpassed HP as the world's largest semiconductor buyer. However, the companies allocate their budget differently. Apple spent about 61% of its chip budget in 2010 on wireless products such as the iPhone and iPad, while HP spent 82% on computer products such as desktops, notebooks and servers.
"Thus, the supremacy of wireless as an OEM semiconductor spending category also is partly a consequence of Apple’s domination of hot mobile markets—and its primacy in the electronics supply chain," IHS said. Apple will be increasing its lead in semiconductor purchasing over HP in 2011 and 2012, the market research firm predicts.